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What is an Ink Mixing System?

What is an Ink Mixing System?

If you’re just starting out screen printing, learning the ins and outs of the industry can be overwhelming. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and cover the fundamentals. Print expert Colin Huggins talks us through a crucial aspect of screen printing: mixing ink colors with a mixing system. 

How many times have you looked at the inks on your shelf and thought, “I need an ink that's a different shade than what I have?” You have two options: you can try to mix the ink color by eyeballing it, or you can use an ink mixing system. 

An ink mixing system is a dedicated set of inks made specifically for the purpose of being used to mix PMS colors following a formula. Think of it as a recipe but instead of making food, you're creating colors.

Gloved hands mixing red ink

WHAT IS A PANTONE COLOR?

In 1963, a company called Pantone created and standardized a color matching system. Before then, every printer had their own color standards, and few colors matched from shop to shop. Pantone created a system to streamline color mixing. The Pantone Matching System (PMS) has become the worldwide standard for recreating colors.

There are more than 1,800 Pantone colors in existence. These colors are named with a series of numbers and a letter: C, U, or sometimes M. While there are many Pantone books available, screen printers use the Pantone Coated books, which have become the standard in the textile screen printing industry. Coated (shown as “C” in color formulas) stands for the type of material the ink is printed on. 

RELATED: WHAT ARE PANTONE COLORS

HOW DOES USING PANTONES BENEFIT PRINTERS? 

Color matching is important in the screen printing industry. Every printer and customer needs to be on the same page and be happy with the color(s) of the final print.

A color swatch with matching Pantone color

Pantone colors were created to be a universal system for color. Using an ink mixing system, printers are able to create those Pantone colors in their shop, which provides more services for customers. You open yourself to a new audience and more opportunities. Matching colors will allow your business to grow, which is always the end goal.

Here’s an example:

Let's say a customer walks in and wants their logo to match Coca Cola Red (PMS 199c). The customer needs it to be that exact color and will not accept the different red shades you have as stock colors. 

To make this color correctly, you need an ink mixing system with its software and a Pantone Coated Book to use as your reference. With an ink mixing system, it’s simple to make the color. All you have to do is pull up the color formula on the software, weigh out the colors, and mix. That’s it. Always confirm with your customer that the color is what they’re looking for.

You can choose to mix what's needed for the job, or you can mix enough to keep it on the shelf for repeat orders. Your choice. The process is quick. Best of all, it is 100% repeatable.

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